Stealing hens latest crime fad in UK

June 30th, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by IANS  


London, June 30 (IANS) People are chickening out from rearing rare hens in their back gardens after a wave of hen-stealing has hit the United Kingdom. London, June 30 (IANS) People are chickening out from rearing rare hens in their back gardens after a wave of hen-stealing has hit the United Kingdom.

Losses run into thousands of pounds already and insurance companies are a worried lot and the police at their wit’s end as the stealing spree goes unchecked.

An estimated 300,000 people rear hens in their backyards for their meat and eggs or as pets.

Emma Gleed, of the Domestic Fowl Trust, told The Independent: “Criminals are now feeding the market. Rare and pure-breed chickens are being stolen by organised thieves from farms and breeders across the country.

The craze for hen rearing and stealing began after a recent Channel 4 programme by famous chefs highlighted the conditions of battery hens. This prompted a surge in demand for free range birds and eggs. It also led to people rearing their own chickens for health reasons. In no time it turned into a hobby with people clamouring for rare breeds as pets.

It is estimated that 1,500 birds have been stolen this year to meet the demand for rare breeds such as the Orpington, Marans and Welsummer. They are being taken largely from people keeping poultry for the first time, often in their back garden, who are prepared to pay considerably over the market price for a good-looking hen.

Prices for rare birds have soared to as much as

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